A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Don’t Listen to these Lies — Expose them with the Truth of God’s Word

I am not going to say anything new in this post. You have all heard it before. But we need to hear it, before, now, and again and again.

An abuse victim who has been targeted not only by her abuser, but by her family members, by her pastor, by the pastor’s wife (I need to write a post about pastor’s wives and how they so often enable the abuser), and by other church members in her church, told me some of the things she is being told:

  • Give him a chance
  • We must forgive people
  • He wants you back
  • He is hurting
  • Stop running from your problems
  • The Bible says for better or worse
  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself

Now, this stuff just makes my blood boil. Lies. All lies. Let me make a few observations and I imagine you all will have some also —

  • Give him a chance — that is what the victim HAS been doing, often for decades!  Yeah, give him a chance to abuse and destroy you all over again.
  • We must forgive people — Really? Does God forgive everyone? Does God forgive when there is no repentance? NO! Does forgiveness necessitate reconciliation? NO!
  • He wants you back — Oh man, you can’t invent this stuff. Yes, he wants her back alright. So his kingdom reign of power and control can be reinstituted in full measure.
  • He is hurting – Oh really. So this means that the people saying these things to the victim have been in contact with the abuser, listening to his plays for pity. They are his allies now. He is hurting? Well how about the victim’s hurts? How is it no one seems to even think about how she has suffered? This is pure EVIL.
  • Stop running from your problems — Ok, well, the next time someone points a gun at your head, or puts poison in your drink, don’t run. Just stand there. Just drink up. And the fact is, abuse victims who leave their abuser, who start calling him on his evil, ARE ceasing to run from their problems! They are now facing those problems square on.
  • The Bible says for better or worse — Now this is rich. I will give $1000 to any of these people who can show me chapter and verse on that one. You see, people take statements made by man and they hear it so often in sermons, and in their laziness they don’t check it out, and pretty soon they elevate it to the Word of God. In addition, “for better or worse” was never meant to mean “you must endure even the most cruel wickedness from your spouse no matter what.”
  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself — Time to get a clue. The person who is feeling sorry for himself is not the victim. It is the abuser. WE must stop feeling sorry for him because his pity ploys are largely how he enlists us as his allies.

To people who lay this cruel garbage on victims, I say go. Just go. Go away and learn what God means when He says He desires mercy, not sacrifice. Close your lips. In the meanwhile, we are done listening to you.

 

Further Reading

Christians are Very Confused About Forgiveness

58 Comments

  1. Tan

    Bravo! Applause. High five 🙂

  2. Amy

    I heard most of those things too, along with:

    “He appears to be changing” — all the while my then-husband was sending me hate-filled emails telling me how worthless I had been for 20 years to our family.

    “Has he ever hit you?” — as if not being hit meant nothing abusive was taking place. This one always made my blood boil and showed me how clueless most people are to what abuse is.

    “We are to forgive and forget” — Oh, really?? I don’t see where we are to forget anything, how ridiculous! And what this was usually code for was to forgive and reconcile — get over it and stop making such a big deal because God has forgiven you of much worse.

    “We are all sinners” — and I believed this one for a long time and it made it difficult for me to finally seek divorce, but fortunately I changed churches and one Sunday my new pastor spoke on this very thing. He explained the difference between a sinner and a saint, something I admit I did not know until then. That then made me question whether my ex was even a Christian at all.

    And perhaps my favorite:
    “God hates divorce” — another statement which held me captive for far too long until I finally asked God to help me understand what Malachi 2:16 and after reading it I found myself questioning why I interpreted it differently than what everyone was telling. To me it was right there, fairly black and white, that what God hated was NOT divorce itself, but WHY divorce occurs — violence and treachery being done within a marriage, the breaking of the marriage covenant.

    • H

      I second your additions. “Forgive and forget” was my abusive husband’s life verse (oh wait that’s not in the Bible… but he quoted it constantly).

      “God hates divorce” is constantly quoted to me even though EVERY time I hear it I correct the person and educate them on the translation. They just get this confused look on their face and then quote it to me again a week later. They hear what I say but it goes in one ear and out the other. It’s amazing how many Christians are robots and don’t even try to process what they are taught.

      I’ll add these ones:

      “He said he is sorry” or “He admitted he did those things.” As if somehow he should get a trophy for that, and I’m just going to fall into his arms totally in love….

  3. bright sunshinin' day

    Great post, Jeff.

    God requires that we act justly and love mercy. We are to grow in grace and truth. Choosing one without the other is imbalanced, distorts Scripture, and creates havoc…and as you said, heaps garbage on victims.

    You said: “To people who lay this cruel garbage on victims, I say go. Just go. Go away and learn what God means when He says He desires mercy, not sacrifice. Close your lips. In the meanwhile, we are done listening to you.”

  4. broken not shattered

    I was told to get counseling for how I’m feeling. No. It’s him who needs it not me.

    • Jeff Crippen

      That “get counseling” thing sounds like the Third Reich sending people to concentration camps for re-programming. The Holy Spirit leads us and enables us to hear Jesus’ truth, and the “church” says it is aberrant, requiring counseling for correction.

      • Tan

        Once again i have to high five you on that comment Jeff.

      • Sara

        Often the “get counseling” is just victim blaming–fix the victim and restore the marriage. I made the mistake of going to marriage counseling. Luckily, the counselor had read Lundy Bancroft’s book and helped me understand what was happening. Before that I had been in individual counseling for several years, because I was trying to fix me. I was miserable and I blamed myself for all of the marriage problems. My therapist was awesome, because she helped me gain self confidence and see that the problem wasn’t me but him.

        My ex was suddenly willing to go to counseling when I said I was filing for divorce. He said he would work on himself. His counselor was horrible and reinforced most of my ex’s beliefs, which escalated the abuse. I finally found the courage to file for divorce. Counseling with the right therapist can help, but the wrong one is a disaster. I stopped counseling right after the divorce was final –funny thing– all of my negative feelings simply went away with him. Today, I am very happy and I know there is nothing wrong with me.

  5. Tess......

    Thank you Jeff for understanding and repeating this message.
    Today (Good Friday), remembering the loneliness and isolation of Jesus in Gethsemane and on the cross, let us remember these same emotions are familiar to us victims/ targets…….I have been v tearful for most of the day, feeling alone and not understood even by so many Christian friends and family.

    How sad that the one helping me most, understanding me most, is a Pastor from another country!
    Let us remember all the victims feeling alone today on this saddest of days for our Saviour…who understands our loneliness.
    Blessings to all who struggle today.

    • Thank you Tess 🙂 It is all the readers like you who keep me going on this work. You bless me every time you add your thoughts to this blog. And I love the way our readers support each other and help each other by sharing their stories and offering their perspectives.

    • Anonymous

      Tess, I would like to encourage you to keep your eyes fixed on the cross of Christ, just as you are doing on this Good Friday. HE will wipe your tears and joy really does come in the morning. The God on the mountain is the same God in the valley. God bless you on this Easter 🌷

    • H

      This Good Friday I heard a very encouraging message on Jesus’ words, “Behold your mother”/”behold your son” as he was speaking from the cross to his mother and John and preparing to leave this world. The separation from his earthly mother that was about to occur was a great concern to him, so that even while suffering tremendously he spared a thought for providing for her earthly needs. Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Not even our Savior’s death on the cross could separate us from the love of Jesus and his tender-hearted provision for us, nor can oceans, nor tragedies, nor misunderstandings, nor any amount of evil people. He is with us, and he cares for us. ❤

  6. Un-Tangled

    I think the words of those “christians” allies are especially damaging because they claim to speak the words of God. They make a victim begin to doubt God’s love and to wonder if perhaps even He has rejected and abandoned her. It’s almost impossible to teach these people because if a victim speaks out about abuse, they automatically label her as bitter, angry, unforgiving, unloving, without faith…and to discount anything she has to say. There no more unteachable person than the “christian” who refuses to hear.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Absolutely. They are like the false prophets in Jeremiah’s day who claimed the Lord had sent them. God makes it plain that such people arouse His wrath.

    • Tan

      A bit like Job’s “friends” too. Miserable comforters.

    • …if a victim speaks out about abuse, they automatically label her as bitter, angry, unforgiving, unloving, without faith…

      and ‘not submitting joyfully enough’ — as per point 6 in the CBMW’s Danvers Statement: “wives should forsake resistance to their husbands’ authority and grow in willing, joyful submission to their husbands’ leadership”.

      • GypsyAngel

        That one gives me the shivers.

      • lonelywife07

        Excuse me while I vomit! UGH! Why don’t they just say what they mean?? “I am man. You are woman. You serve me in any way I see fit. Got that?”

  7. grace551

    Great post! It really shines the light on these lies.

  8. GypsyAngel

    I am so tired of hearing about how I need to be the one that needs to change, stop lying about the abuser. If I hear my adult children say….one more time…”well I know what you did, (translation: he told me what you did) what he’s feeling, that you are delusional, that you are the crazy one, you are the one who needs help, your bi-polar, delusional, the abuser,” I think I will scream. God help me…he sold my body! he smothered me, and tried to strangle me, broke my nose, punched me in the mouth and broke out my teeth, threw me out of the house naked and then called the police ! poured bleach all over me, kerosene and tried to light it, starved me, withheld medical care and medication, and poisoned me (with a specific plant that grew in our yard) sold our home of several decades and threw me away leaving me homeless and destitute, and so much worse !!! And I’M the abuser ???? REALLY ????

    Actually I am screaming in my soul, and cry out to God on a daily basis, I feel so betrayed by my human father and my children. Especially my children…they lived with him and know what a monster he really is. How can they not see? My heart is broken.

    Thank you for letting my vent.

    I Thank God for His Peace, and His Joy. And that my Heart and soul are renewed on a daily basis. Thank you for your ongoing ministry through this blog, you absolutely have no idea how much you have helped me.

    Please feel free to edit this as you feel led. But the particulars will not alert anyone as to my identity.

    • Sara

      Thank You!!! I suffered through all of those and the ones that Amy posted too. I too struggled with “God hates divorce.” Filing for divorce was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and none of his allies made it any easier. There are a couple of friends I miss dearly and it angers me that they believed everything he said–20 years of friendship just gone. My children and I left the church because he used the pastor and elders against me too. I find that I trust no one from my old world and I have started over, but through it all, I am happy I left. No one else saw the ~two dozen years of torment, but I know the truth. My children and I are now free.

    • JesusmyJoy

      Dear GypsyAngel, I am so sorry for what you have been through. How hard it must be to recall all the terrible abuse! But I thank you for posting your experience just so I (and I’m sure others) can pray for you and especially for your children. May God convict them and help them to face truth and reality. I hope they will choose to walk in honesty and live in the freedom and love God has for them and one day show understanding and love to you, rather than ally with your abuser. May God continue to carry you with His peace and joy.

      • GypsyAngel

        Thank you. It is heartening to have partners in these prayers.

    • Abby

      I’m praying for you GypsyAngel.

      • GypsyAngel

        Thank you so much. Prayer is most gratefully welcome.

      • lonelywife07

        GypsyAngel I will be praying for you! What you described is horrible! I’m so sorry! I will also pray that your children’s eyes will be opened to the TRUTH!

    • Dear Gyspy Angel — thank you for venting! Many many blessings to you.

      • GypsyAngel

        Thank you for allowing it.
        And thank you again for such a wonderful ministry.

  9. redheadwords

    The ones I heard the most were, “You have to think of the kids. Divorce devastates kids, and they’ll never recover,” and the infamous “but does he hit you???”

    • Hi redheadwords, welcome to the blog 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

    • Sasanka

      It’s amazing but recently, after I mentioned the physical abuse to an elder in a conversation about my reasons to divorce, I got ” but did he cheat on you?” I said rather tersely I didn’t know, but if he did, it would have been the least of my problems. The elder was a good person, serving the Lord all of his life and told me with a lot of compassion I was a strong woman. On a heart level he saw “somewhat”, but the incorrect and legalistic “God hates divorce”, was still at the forefront.

      The conversation was a major trigger. I could not sleep that night and cried several times, out of anger. I replayed the conversation many times trying to answer and explain even better to ‘make them see’. As Pastor Sam Powell preached recently, injustice can really drive you mad. Saying ‘but did he cheat on you” is like you may have a stage four liver cancer, but….do you have a tumor on your elbow???! Sigh.

      • Sasanka

        And my original point was actually a response to Redheadwords!….If you think the special physical abuse will certainly invoke mercy in their skewed books…don’t hold your breath. When there is no mercy, there is no mercy.

        How do they not see that a Shepherd is to guard the sheep from wolves who come in sheep wool inside the flock? I just see this picture: A wolf eating a sheep who is still alive. Shepherd comes and tells the sheep to hang in there and be quiet, instead of taking his staff and driving the wolf away, and tending to the sheep’s wounds. Sometimes he even helps the wolf finish her off. How absurd!?

  10. LH

    Thank you again – I really appreciate your responses to each statement. I didn’t know how to articulate this back when I was getting out, but I love continuing to learn how to respond well, and I try to encourage other women in abuse situations as God sends them into my life.

  11. Sara

    I meant for my comment to go in the general comments, not a reply to gypsy angel.

  12. KayE

    These church people are so stupid. Plenty of women have been murdered by their husbands without being hit even once. One of the things my ex got great pleasure from was making me struggle for breath. When I told an apparently sympathetic church elder that my ex was dangerous, the church elder literally scoffed at me. He considered me equally blameworthy for not being able to just ” work things out”, and even worse, had supported my ex in getting himself a new victim.

    • Anonymous

      Wolves run together in the same pack.

  13. Lost my cookies

    OF COURSE he wants me back. He’s now forced to cook, clean up after himself, do his own laundry, handle his own calendar, and he has no one to rape. DUH.

  14. ThirstingForRighteousness

    Thank You!

    • Hi and welcome to the blog 🙂

      I changed your screen name to ThirstingForRighteousness, as a precaution. If you want us to change it to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be happy to assist. 🙂 (For most of our readers, it’s not safe to use their real name on this blog, as their abuser or his allies would then be able to identify them.

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

    • I had to change your screen name again. When you submit comments to this blog, you might have to manually alter your name in the ‘name’ field before you hit the ‘submit’ button. The two comments you’ve submitted so far gave a name that looked like your real name. Your device might be inputting that name automatically, and if so, you will have be change it manually yourself. Email TWBTC if you need help with this. twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

  15. THANK YOU for posting this truth which speaks against the lies of twisted Scripture.
    I appreciate the passionate words in this post:
    “To people who lay this cruel garbage on victims, I say go. Just go. Go away and learn what God means when He says He desires mercy, not sacrifice. Close your lips. In the meanwhile, we are done listening to you.”

  16. God Fearing Mom

    One I heard was: “Everyone has a cross to bear.” My response was that even Jesus reached a point where he couldn’t carry his own cross because he was so beaten down and exhausted. Simon carried it for him and I think that’s important to note.

    • Anonymous

      We can look at these examples of Simon carrying the cross for Jesus and know, Jesus truly was fully human. Jesus really does know our pain and suffering. Endears Him to us all the more!!

    • H

      Another reply to that is, “No, Jesus died on the cross in my place so that I DON’T HAVE TO. I am not God’s sacrificial lamb. I don’t have to bear abuse as a cross to atone for my sins. They are already atoned for. Jesus told me instead to take up his yoke, and it is light and easy to bear, because he’s already done all the heavy lifting.”

      I really despise when people carelessly imply everything God did is an example that we should follow. Yes, we should be godly and grow in Christlikeness when it comes to imitating his character. But when it comes to the work of salvation, there is nothing to imitate. This was a one-time unique act, and all the glory belongs to him. Implying people should suffer a “cross” as Jesus did just boils down to works-based religion. It’s putting a burden on my back. I refuse to carry it.

  17. Spiritually abused

    I was told all those too! +++ “I don’t see anywhere is the bible where it says you can leave an emotionally abusive husband” “He doesn’t say anything bad about you…” His behavior doesn’t matter it is your behavior that matters” well then we will just treat him as an unbeliever”(what does that even mean!!!?) I have only been separated for 4 months and I already have my personhood back! Praise the Lord!

    • GypsyAngel

      Congratulations on reclaiming your truth!
      Many blessing on your road back to you.

  18. sheisovercoming

    Thank you for continuing to stand strong in the gap.

  19. Tess

    Dear Sasanka…….That image and description of the wolf eating a live sheep and finally helping the wolf ‘to finish her off’, is exactly what happens.

    I may have just about continued to cope with the abuse had not the pastor told me ‘never to contact him again ‘….It was this comment that ‘finished me off…….I still struggle to believe that a Pastor whom I trusted could be so stupid, so wilfully blind ….It has been traumatic to accept that this actually has happened…….Like having the rug pulled from under me…I WAS up to that point, someone who trusted church leaders….NOW, I don’t feel I will ever trust again……I am scared to go into a church and thank God for Jeff’s audio sermons and this site, Barbara, your encouragement means so much.

    My abuse has been nowhere near as severe as some of the terrible stories I have read about…I think I was perhaps more vulnerable to begin with because of mental health problems and having struggled with being adopted ……..I am amazed at the strength of some of the wonderful people posting on this site, which is a source of healing for so many of us.

    I am so grateful that the Lord has, as He promised, not given me more abuse than I can cope with. Even so, sometimes I feel like a wimp compared to other posters!

    • Sasanka

      Dear Tess, I am so sorry what happened to you with your pastor. That must have been very traumatic… I read your comment imagining the situation and it’s like a punch in the stomach, you cannot draw breath. Tess, these people will be so very shocked on That Day when our Lord turns to them with piercing eyes of Truth and Justice and says…”Depart from me, workers of injustice!” Please know that the Lord is with us, and never ever with such ‘pastors’.

      Also, Abby in the next comment nailed it ….it is strange, but true for me as well that the biggest betrayers were not even my abuser husband, but the wicked in-laws, some friends and my pastor…. They are like stubborn children who out of self-centredness do not want their falsely secure world be disrupted. So they throw you under the bus. There was no love, ever.

      Tess, stay strong and draw strength from everyone here…I have been two and a half years out and so so much better :)) Divorce finalization is around the corner. Things with custody did not go as I hoped, but I trust the Lord. He knows and it will turn out for our best in the end. It will get better. If calamity did not happen to you, you would have kept on trusting wolves. Now you have Real leaders from God counseling you and in time you will be able to find a decent church, by God’s grace. Keep drinking from this stream, you are in wonderful, wonderful hands. Lots of love and blessings.

    • GypsyAngel

      Oh my dear one. Please honey never compare your trauma to others, in the respect of “hers was much worse than mine.” Because all abuse trauma is outside of God’s will for us. You experienced it, it has damaged you, this is truth. Please do not make small the pain that you have experienced. God surely doesn’t. You are His beloved child, and what happened to you matters. Just as there is no small sin, as all sin is sin; there are no small hurts, it hurt you, and deeply. Abuse is abuse…and You matter.

      • GypsyAngel

        My Comment here was for Tess.

      • lonelywife07

        GypsyAngel…THANK YOU! I often do that after reading some of your horrific stories of abuse…my H “only” cheated on me throughout the marriage and piled on his covert narcissistic abuse through gaslighting, cold silences, mocking, etc..and I now have problems when people reject me or I experience betrayal…I curl into a ball internally and I just want to disappear…I close down emotionally and I know that that isn’t healthy and I do negative self talk because “my abuse wasn’t as bad as others!!”
        So again, THANK YOU for your wise, comforting words! I will be praying for you!! ❤️

  20. Abby

    Something occurred to me while reading through the comments today. I’ve always said that my biggest betrayers were not my abusers but those who know what has happened and do nothing. It occurred to me that they want to live in this world as children. They don’t want to face down evil, they don’t even want to look at it. There are just so many of these “children.” Our churches are full of them.

    • standsfortruth

      So true Abby.
      We find out who are friends truly are when we tell them about the abuse..
      They must then make a choice to stand with us or against us..
      It becomes the litmus test for a true friendship in Christ
      Some may choose to distance themselves from us once they realize it will cost them something.
      These types never were a true friend.

      • lonelywife07

        I wish I could like your comment 1000 times, Standsfortruth!

  21. Denise

    I love the way you defend victims of abuse, especially at the hands of the church. I can’t wait for your piece on the pastor’s wife. I had a PW take me to the cleaners with her charm and charisma. Fortunately she and her husband left our church. When she visits, she will organize large lunches and exclude certain people, like me, and post pictures of how popular she is on social media. This may be small in comparison to outright domestic abuse, but it’s another type of bullying nonetheless. Yep, the pastor’s wife, the most unbiblical role in the church.

    • Anonymous

      Denise, I second what you’ve written!

      And the thing is that those of us awakened to the truth about these types of people no longer take the bait nor do we willingly put ourselves in positions to be discarded. We often end up not attending church at all, and as a result–everybody loses.

      When Jesus lives in our heart he goes with us wherever we go and when we are FORCED (due to many in the church who prop these abusers up by not calling them out or by refusing to play their games or allowing them to perpetuate their games against others) a true believer is harmed as well as the extra strength that comes with many true believers worshiping together, is lost.

      • Denise

        You nailed it. I was discarded like yesterday’s garbage. She and I had a history. Our kids are good friends and graduated together. I’m not a mere acquaintance. This is done deliberately to hurt me for an. This happened at the heels of my mother’s death, which proves your point that she lacks empathy. It’s frustrating because these types surround themselves with a lot of nice people making them impenetrable to accountability.

        As I get older, I get more discouraged and disenchanted with the church. There seems to be so much cowardly covert aggression and it’s put upon us to mend the relationship. I’m tired of it. God sees it and I take comfort in that.

        I’m starting to get a good sense of red flags even in potential friends by websites like this.

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